Residents Want to Keep the Malt In St. Henri

Condominium Plans for Malt Plant Challenged by Locals

  • A St. Henri development project is still in its early stages but would transform the neighbourhood’s old malt factory into hundreds of condominiums. Photo Geoffrey Vendeville

Local artists and residents of St. Henri met along the banks of the Lachine Canal in the shadow of the dilapidated Canada Malting Plant Saturday, Sept. 21 in protest of a plan to redevelop the building into residences.

Although still in its early stages, the project would transform the old malt factory into hundreds of condominiums, as well as some low-budget housing.

Once the largest malt factory in Canada, the site was abandoned in the 1980s. Today, it is one of the few remaining vestiges of St. Henri’s industrial past overlooking the canal. The building is a popular destination among urban explorers and a source of inspiration for artists and photographers.

Event organizers decorated the rusty chain link fence surrounding the factory with photos of its graffiti-covered silos and squalid interior.

“[The factory] has been here for so long and people appreciate it in their own ways but they have no idea that there may be changes to it in the near future,” said Stefanie Canadia, one of the organizers of the rally.

“This is to get members of the community out to show that we already value the property as it is now. It has a lot of historic value, it has a lot of social value—and people don’t want to have a plan for condos to steamroll through.”

Photo Geoffrey Vendeville

As of last year, the Sud-Ouest borough has held a series of public consultations on the redevelopment of the plant. Among the groups that have already been consulted are Heritage Montreal, Parks Canada, and Solidarité St. Henri.

One of the biggest challenges facing the project is the preservation of the factory’s crumbling terracotta silos. Built in 1905, they are the only silos of their kind still standing across Canada.

Photographer Daniel Guilbert recounted the history of the factory to concerned residents and passers-by. He says he has been a critic of plans to redevelop the site for years.

“There’s already condos being built. They’re getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “A small three-story condo is one thing, but when they’re 14 stories—it’s what is going to transform St. Henri into a new Griffintown.

“That’s why nobody wants it here.”

The Office de consultation publique de Montréal will hold further consultations on the Canada Malting redevelopment project. However, a spokesman for the office said they had not yet received an actual mandate to hold consultations.

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